Britain clears way for polygamy benefits
By Al Webb
LONDON — The British government has cleared the way for husbands with multiple wives to claim welfare benefits for all their partners, fueling growing controversy over the role of Islamic Shariah law in the nation's cultural and legal framework.
Bigamy is outlawed in Britain, but authorities have never prosecuted Muslim men who had legally married more than one woman abroad and continued to live with them after immigrating. Shariah permits men to have up to four wives at one time.
Now, after a review that began in November 2006, a panel of four government departments has decided that all the wives of a Muslim man may collect state benefits, provided that the marriages took place in a country where multiple spouses are legal.
Neither the review nor the decision was announced publicly, and their discovery by newspapers late last month triggered an uproar in the largely Christian nation — a fury exacerbated by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' remark last week that some aspects of Islamic law could be embraced within Britain's legal system.
1) Britain clears way for polygamy benefits